On Sunday, September the 6th, during the Festival of Dangerous Ideas Australian writer and academic Emma Jane came together with two other writers Laurie Penny and Clementine Ford to discuss how to handle so-called “cybersexism”.
Each one of them experienced online sexism and know exactly what it looks like. For Emma Jane, it all started back in 1988 when she decided to publish her email address along with her article in a newspaper. She got then an immediate response with what she calls now “rapenglish” a rude language full of sexualized vitriol.
Penny got acquainted with troll messages around 2007 after she went better know to the public. The same happened to Ford, though she insists that it probably began even earlier, the day she first logged online. She believes, that it was still an abuse, even despite the less intensity of the actions. It comes not only for responding the articles, the phenomenon has already spread to any online conversation – Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Reddit.
Clementine Ford believes that it is not the Internet that causes misogyny, she thinks the hatred in people’s hearts has always existed, but Internet has given it the opportunity to be expressed.
During the show women suggested some “toolkit of approaches” against online haters:
– outsource to a trusted person to do all the “block and delete job” in social net accounts;
– from time to time take a break from the Internet;
– never take your laptop to bed to escape “having rape threats appear in your private space”;
– reply with humor.
Ford finds the combination of humor and exposure to be the most effective in confronting Internet trolls. When it comes to feminism questions, the most of the hate comes from the men audience. As Margaret Atwood, the famous Canadian writer and feminist, said, “men are afraid women will laugh at them”, and that is the reason why Ford prefers laughing at haters rather than using stoicism or silence.
More than that, the women agreed that there might be certain consequences for using online female harassment and for generally trolling on the Internet. If one tells a woman to stop being politically provocative, to hide personal photos or to change them into something less attractive, the authors of this kind of misogyny notes should be tracked down and then be exposed to the world.